U.S. Department of Justice tells California to reopen churches.
“Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” said the letter.
A letter from federal attorneys pointed to “civil rights concerns” around Gavin Newsom’s tyrannical stay-at-home orders, which for the past couple of months has forbidden people from attending religious gatherings at places of worship. The DOJ noted that religious services are barred even as sectors of the economy deemed “essential” have been allowed to remain open.
Harmeet Dhillon, the very brave conservative attorney who spearheaded legal challenges to California’s disgusting halt on church services, said in an interview that the federal government vindicated her argument that Newsom had overreached.
“Literally, this country was founded on the concept that the king cannot tell the peasants how they may worship,” Dhillon said in an interview. “Gov. Newsom may not tell people of faith that they can only worship in their homes.”
“This facially discriminates against religious exercise…California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden, regardless of whether remote worship is practical or not.”
As it stands right now the current guidelines for reopening California’s economy would allow churches to resume only after other sectors of the economy. The federal government says that is an example of “unequal treatment of faith communities.” And I have to say that I agree with their legal assessment. It’s one thing if you say you will close down businesses, it’s another to say which specific ones close and which ones stay open, that is textbook discrimination.
Assemblymember Kevin Kiley said the extraordinary powers are for a governor “under conditions of extreme peril” and “were not meant to give a single person the ability to remake all of California law indefinitely.”
San Diego County supervisors voted Tuesday to ask the state to allow them to be a test case for more rapidly reopening businesses and allowing more gatherings and recreational options, including outdoor religious services with restrictions.
The letter by US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Dreiband and four U.S. attorneys for California cites a statement issued in April by Attorney General William P. Barr that argued the government can’t impose “special restrictions” on religious activity.
AG Barr had already taken the rare step of filing papers to side with a Mississippi church that was suing after several parishioners were unfairly ticketed for violating a stay-at-home order by attending drive-in services.
The fight to reopen California had already headed into the courtroom as lawsuits were filed and brave religious leaders stood their ground in defiance of the orders to close down.
The battle is coming to a climax soon and once the dust settles I am confident that patriots will be victorious and Gavin Newsom will be sent back to Sacramento with his bifurcated tail between his legs.